20 September, 2018

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The Question Of A Secular Versus A Religious State, Buddhism, India And Sri Lanka: Full Text Of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Speech In Maharashtra

By Mahinda Rajapaksa

Venerable members of the Maha Sangha, Buddhist representatives from other nations and distinguished guests, it is my honour and privilege to stand before you today as the Chief Guest at this important gathering. This International Buddhist Festival is being held in the city of Aurangabad by the Dhammayana Educational and Charitable Trust for the second time. Maharashtra is also the birthplace of that great son of India and the most important Indian Buddhist leader of the last century Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

Buddhism has been India’s greatest gift to the world and it is only fitting that the national flag of India features the Dharmachakra of Buddhism. The State emblem of India is an adaptation of the lion of capital of Emperor Asoka which also prominently features the Dharmachakra. There is no doubt that India’s golden era was the period of the Mauryan empire and particularly the reign of Emperor Asoka which is why the national symbols of India all hark back to that period. Even though Sri Lanka was never a part of the Mauryan Empire, Emperor Asoka is as important to us as he is to India. It was under Emperor Asoka that Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka. Since that time, Buddhism has been the religion of the vast majority of our population.         

Buddhism is the link that forever binds India and Sri Lanka. To us in Sri Lanka, India, is the land of the Buddha described as ‘Jambudeepa’ in our ancient texts. An unending stream of pilgrims comes from Sri Lanka to India throughout the year to worship at the holy Buddhist sites in Eastern India. It is indeed one of the great ironies of history that Buddhism declined in the land of its birth while it flourished in other parts of Asia and spread as far as Japan. Today, Buddhists account for less than one percent of the population of India with a significant concentration of Buddhists being present in the State of Maharashtra where over 17% of the population are Buddhists. This once again is one of Dr Ambedkar’s legacies. The reasons for the decline of Buddhism in India according to scholars has been the fragmentation of the Mauryan empire after Emperor Asoka, the loss of patronage for the Buddhist establishment and foreign invasions.

We in Sri Lanka will always be grateful to the Arahant Mahinda and Emperor Asoka for the gift of Buddhism which has down the centuries defined the character of the Sri Lankan nation. Sri Lanka became a centre of Buddhism in its own right by having a written version of the entire Thripitaka by the third century BC. It is believed that Sri Lanka has preserved Buddhism in its earliest form and the ancient Buddhist texts available in Sri Lanka have been of much interest to international scholars.    

At a time when the concept of religious tolerance was unknown in Europe, Sri Lankan rulers were practising it, thanks to the influence of Buddhism. In the first few decades of the 17th century, when the Portuguese who had captured the coastal belt of Sri Lanka expelled all Muslims from areas under their control, the Sinhala Buddhist King Senarath who ruled over the central highlands gave them refuge in Eastern Sri Lanka where they continue to live. Later, when the Dutch captured the areas controlled by the Portuguese, they set about persecuting and expelling all Roman Catholics from the territories under their control. It was the Sinhala King Wimaladharmasuriya the Second who gave them refuge in his Kingdom and allowed them to practice their religion in peace.

King Wimaladharmasuriya the Second was also the royal patron of St Joseph Vaz who came to Sri Lanka from Goa as a mendicant missionary to rebuild the Catholic Church that had been banned and destroyed by the Dutch. This singular religious tolerance that Sri Lankan rulers have displayed even in an era when religious tolerance was not even heard of, is entirely due to the influence of Buddhism. India too has a long history of religious tolerance. Even in the time of the Buddha many religions and philosophies co-existed in India. While there may have been debates and arguments about whose views were correct, society in general was tolerant of the existence of diverse religious views. This is one of the greatest legacies of India which has become a legacy of Sri Lanka as well through the influence of Buddhism.      

This easy intermingling of ethnic groups and religions in Sri Lanka is a living reality even today. The city of Colombo where the majority of the population does not belong to the majority community in the country is an example to the entire world of the co-existence of religions and ethnic groups. In Sri Lanka Hinduism also finds acceptance within the fold of popular Buddhism. Every Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka features shrines to certain Hindu Gods particularly Lord Vishnu who is seen as one of the guardian deities of Sri Lanka. So apart from being the religion of the vast majority of the population, the ethos of Buddhism also keeps the country together by providing all other religious faiths an environment of tolerance and coexistence. 

When India and Sri Lanka started out as independent nations in the latter half of the 1940s our constitutions were silent on the question of a secular versus a religious state. Our countries moved in opposite directions in the 1970s. In 1972, Sri Lanka included in its new republican constitution of that year a provision according the foremost place to Buddhism and making it the duty of the state to protect and foster Buddhism while assuring followers of other faiths the right to freely practice their religions. This same provision has been included in Sri Lanka’s present constitution as well.

India however chose the path of secularism and in 1976, the 42nd amendment to the Indian constitution declared India to be a ‘Sovereign, Socialist, Secular Democratic Republic’. Sri Lanka is not described as a ‘Buddhist Republic’ the way Afghanistan for instance is described as an Islamic Republic, but the provision in our constitution according foremost place to Buddhism is interpreted by some to mean that Sri Lanka is not a secular state. In recent times in Sri Lanka, certain parties have advocated the removal of the constitutional provision which accords the foremost place to Buddhism. I am completely opposed to the removal or dilution of this constitutional provision because that would destroy the very fabric of our society.

It is the influence of Buddhism that provides the ground for the co-existence of various religious and ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. Despite any rhetoric that politicians may spew forth, each Sri Lankan individual knows deep down that we can live together as a nation. Today, if you come to Colombo, you will see many high rise residential buildings that have come up in the past two decades. This condominium boom in Colombo was in fact started by Tamil people resident overseas, who spent enormous sums of money buying up flats in Colombo even at the height of the war that was waged to carve out an independent Tamil state in the north and east. Even after the war, the Tamil people resident overseas have not invested in the north and east to the extent they have in Colombo.

I see this as a case of voting with one’s feet. The condominiums in Colombo are not cheap. Property values in Colombo are almost the same as in some Western capitals and nobody would invest large sums of money in Colombo if they thought it was not possible to live among the majority Sinhala Buddhist population. In fact the majority of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka permanently live outside the north and east, among the Sinhala people. It is the tolerance and the peaceful nature of Buddhism that gives our nation this strength. The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has gone on record opposing any move to deprive Buddhism of the foremost place accorded by the constitution and to turn Sri Lanka into a secular state.

Despite all attempts made by certain politically motivated parties to destroy this harmony, it has held. This is the legacy of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. I wish to commend the Dhammayana Educational and Charitable Trust for its efforts to revive Buddhism in the land of its birth and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri DevendraFadnavis for the interest he has shown in this matter.

Thank you.

*Speech of the Chief Guest former President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa at International Buddhist Festival, Maharashtra

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Latest comments

  • 19
    10

    Which Indian organisation invited this racist war criminal genocidal killer of Tamils, who cold heartedly murdered more than 145000 innocent Tamils in the Vanni in May 2009 and then brutally occupied the Tamil lands , that still remains occupied to give a speech about Buddhism . What an insult to Lord Budda and real Buddhism. Sinhalese do not practice Buddhism but a racist hate filled Mahavamsa doctrine, that wants the island’s Tamils destroyed. This man committed genocide and war crimes on the island’s Tamils and these Indians invite him. This means they are happy that he committed war crimes on Tamils and want to commemorate this evil creature. Also they even do not respect the feeling of their own 100 million Indian Tamil population, who are their fellow countrymen.

    • 5
      1

      The bi-partisan UNP-SLFP culture of impunity and immunity for corrupt politicians, is going from strength to strength, as everyone is distracted with Bond scam Ranil’s boru constitution for the boru-booru international Human Rights lobby owned and operated by the so called international community in Lanka.

      Mahinda Jarapassa and bond scam Ranil should share the same prison cell in miracle of modayas!

      • 3
        4

        You may be right with MR but no right with RW.

        Bond scam is being investigated, but all the high crimes have been perpetrated by MR has not yet been touched.

        That is the difference.

        RW will reveal soon, how deeprooted the Bank issue has been.

        • 5
          0

          l m B.
          You are wrong.
          They are old friends ,opportunists, unprincipled and dishonest. Period.

      • 2
        0

        S M
        Spot on.

      • 0
        1

        This bloody racist scumbag talking of religious tolerance is the most Unbearable garbage that any intelligent person could tolerate.

        The Sinhalese people are always friendly and kind hearted. So, how come for the last 100 years even during the British rule the Theosophical gangs created by the Jewish Zionist criminals managed to cause pogroms and racist mass murders happened in the name of the so called Buddhists and with the fake tag they created to further their secret Zionist agenda in the likes of “Protection of the Dhamma and the infamous Foremost place given to the Buddhism in the 1972 constitution…. Etc.?

        It’s the Govigama Racist agenda that is the cause for all the blood letting that is which is still promoted through their Govi media Mafia” Wijewardenes Wijaya Publications, Upali Newspaper and the Island Newspaper Mafia institutions.

    • 5
      5

      Last time it was around 40000 according to the same claims, how did it climb up to 145000? When we wake up tomorrow will we find out that it was actually 1 million? Who are the mystical killers?

    • 6
      1

      Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa ,

      You have indeed make some “accomplishments” . You have managed to get the Sri Lankan passport to be No. 6, Yes No, 6, a great achievement in itself. from the bottom..If Buddhism was followed, this would not have been the case.

      We are talking not only about the bullshit on Buddhism you are talking about, even though Para-Sinhala “Buddhism” is an insult to Buddhism, and the Mahawamsa is an insult to the Buddha.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyx1LZ2Q3To

      The Sri Lankan passport has been ranked as one of the 10 worst in the world for those wishing to travel overseas. According to the 2013 Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index, a global ranking system based on the freedom of travel for countries’ citizens, Sri Lankans face similar restrictions to people from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, Eritrea, Palestine, Nepal, the Sudan, Kosovo and the Lebanon.

      Unfortunately, this would seem to suggest that Sri Lanka’s status in the international community is not especially high, courtesy of President Mahida Rajapaksa.

    • 6
      0

      Mahinda Rajapakshe s former men are evading arrest :

      This man preaches buddhism, but the harm done by his two terms are beyond all levels, even if elemination of terror within lanka is seen as the only good thing.

      Former President’s Chief of Staff Gamini Senarath and two others are currently evading arrest, FCID officers who turned up at their homes to arrest them have found.

      FCID sources state that the families of the suspects too have not been able to reveal any reliable information of their whereabouts.

      The FCID has thus attempted to arrest Senarath, Neil Bandara and Piyadasa Kudabalage. They have been charged for misappropriating millions in the name of building the Grand Hyatt hotel in Colpetty,Colombo. They have been allegedly siphoning money from Sri Lanka Insurance to their company.

      The FCID began investigations into the case having received the above complaint.

      At the end of the investigation, the three had been asked to report to the FCID to record their statements but they had not showed up. Yesterday, the FCID informed their lawyers to have them come to the FCID but they failed to be present.Thereafter, the FCID had gone to their homes to arrest them.

      The police had also obtained a court order from the Fort Magistrate to arrest the three suspects after having recorded a statement from them.The officers are working towards arresting the suspects and stated that they had taken all legal precautions necessary to prevent them from leaving the country.

    • 2
      0

      @Dickhead Rohan.
      It is not 145,000 people of Eelam Tamils. number is as much as 1 millon Eelam Tamils were killed by genocidal singalese. get your facts correct, you idiot. even foreigner read CT, they get mislead by your wrong facts.

    • 0
      0

      Don’t you get it?

      India loves Tamil killers. A common problem, no?

    • 0
      0

      Dear Rohan, the question that bug you will bug anyone who is an ordinary person who has a human heart….. Meaning, how the hell the Indians are inviting this criminal who went about destroying religious places including the Hindu kovils, churches and mosques is invited to give a sermon of religious tolerance….. This is the game of the Jewish system which is using their Jewish blooded criminals who are holding the power in almost 99% of all the present day governments in all countries who have long been infiltrated into the local communities and then work to subvert the religious and local customs to transform them to become a mass murdering barbaric society through their mind controls through media and corporate activities. You have to know the enemy by going through a radical change of thinking in identifying them. The Indian Brahmin rulers and the Telungu Govigama criminals are in alliance with the Jewish controlled West to destroy the original inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent…. The Tamils.

  • 6
    0

    After all Buddha never preached a new religion nor did he belong to any religion.It is said that he was born to Hindu parents, but he had his own free thinking with regard to life. To make a religion out of his teaching is not acceptable.,Even Lord Buddha would not have advocated it . If Buddha comes to know that so much of blood has been shed in Srilanka and Mynamar in his name, he would have shed a cascade of tears to douche the fires ignited by the pseudo Buddhist. Further if he was kept informed about our Mahinda’s “good deeds”, he would have been turning in his grave. Fortunately he would have been Cremated according to Hindu rites, thus escaping the wrath.

  • 9
    4

    The two leaders who opened the ” Pandoras Box ” of racial hatred was S W R D Bandaranaike and Mahinda Rajapaksa .

    • 4
      3

      Foolish simplistic arguments. Blame everything on SWRD or the Sinhala Buddhists. By the way SWRD was a Christian who converted overnight. Very odd indeed.

      • 9
        0

        Taraki

        “By the way SWRD was a Christian who converted overnight.”

        Many in this forum are descendants of Kallathonies from South India who later converted to Buddhism, and then to Sinhala/Buddhism (you included) and converting to Sinhala/Buddhist fascism.

        Buddhism is a rational philosophy, later became a way of life of many.

        Sinhala/Buddhism is the nasty little political force manufactured by a handful of crooks to misallocate resources, opportunities and state power in their favour. One wouldn’t support it unless one benefits from it.

        Sinhala/Buddhist fascism is the product of failed Sinhala/Buddhism.

        Therefore you will have to rediscover Buddha’s teaching in pristine form if you are really interested in truth, justice, humanity, …………………equality, ….. peace, ….

        Are you?

    • 1
      0

      M.
      Spot on.
      The only sane and practical solution is a secular country with democratic principles.
      This seems to be a far cry at the moment.

    • 0
      4

      Wow, Muslims always preach peace be with infidels. Let us muslims get killed for 72 virgins.

      • 1
        0

        J.
        You are full of BS and stupid information.
        Write something sensible instead of gutter politics.

  • 7
    2

    Mahinda R omitted mention of the butchering of batches of Tamils periodically from 1956 to 2001 by the armed forces and police, most of whom were Sinhalese, for the only reason that they were Tamils, and, thousands who disappeared at the end of the war after being transported away by the army.
    He did not say that in the northeast, state jobs even now, are mostly given to Sinhalese outsiders, rather than the many more qualified Tamils, and that the army numbering between half to one-third of the population in most areas runs a covert military regime which erects hundreds of Buddha statues and Buddhist temples in areas devoid of Buddhist citizens.
    Ambedkar encouraged conversion of tens of thousands of “Dalits” – untouchables – to Buddhism in India in the hope that the Hindu society would accept them as equals, but this did not happen.
    And, he failed to mention that Buddhism is a way of life prescribed by the Buddha for laymen and monks and that most of the latter do not follow it – & are now even referred to as “Saffron Thugs” due to their behaviour, and that young monks are recruited from poor families, never from the affluent.
    He cannot fool Indians who know all that happened and is happening in Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    5

    Ever Indian citizen should know that Rajiva Gandi was killed by Tamils of TNA back LTTE terrorist?
    Well, sounded data’s has proven beyond doubt that LTTE is armed wing of TNA political classes back by Tamil Diasporas in Western countries> As well as …The Global Tamil forum and World Tamil Congress are international wings of Tamils aspirations of Eealm Regime in part of Sri Lankan soil?

    How are they can be justify that assignation of Rajiv Gandi was reasonable or just cause of Tamil Eealm to win so-called “Liberation of Tamil Speaking Race” in World?

    Neverltless the Tamil-Nationalism+ Chauvinism in through-out the world-wide which type of Tamil Racism in globally known that they are ruthless murder of bunch of Terrorist has been proven beyond doubt by their self behavior and their own deeds politics of Terrorism ?

    The Tamil National Terrorism is worst than Islam-Extremism of many types Terrorist, like Al Kida, Jihadist, Taliban -outfits , Boku Haram and Sunning Muslim Terrorist back by Saudi Arabia Kings & their Kingdom of AL-Sadudi in Globally.

    No a single Sinhalese man or woman are been having Political Terrorism any part of Globe?
    Why was that? In life behavior of 2600 years their have been civilized by Buddhist Teaching an Ideology of Buddhist theory of Cause an Effects, their teaching long years of civilization?

    Needless to say Sinhalese’s majority has integrated in Modern Democracy since 1931 by mode of change government by Universal Franchised, even under ruthless British Colonial occupations over 150 years since year 1796?

    We respect Tamil religion believes and their cultural norms through-out the an our soil ? Buddhism is guiding politics of majority People of Sri lanka?
    We renounced gun -Rule polices by LTTE and JVP?

    • 2
      0

      Soon after masters left the so called terrorism still we carry was created by LTTE fake monk by shooting the one who brought Somalia only
      Who is this Tamil diaspora it was created by you all wants to chase away the Thamils.
      Rohana wijeweera was also LTTE
      King Ashoka brought the Buddhism to the barbarians to be civilised not the statue builders.
      Actually as Sinhalese what is the contribution towards the Buddhism and humanity.
      Come out of from the the myth that you all created or saviour of Buddhism.
      The class system you have ,1st thing ask is what is your surname….
      Who is governing you all now the murders thugs drug dealers under world kings but they all wear national dress that white and white and regular visitors to the yellow robes
      You Moody’s a county’s finance minister even don’t know his own financial matter of his own,his wife bought the house but he lives there but don’t any knowledge is it own or rented or bought it…..what a capable to run the whole country’s finance
      Who are the spoilers of the country
      We don’t like to be part of sri lanka,we recognised as sri Lanka’s
      But this karma you can’t get away with what we suffered as minorities with under heavy hands now it’s openly happening in the south but we don’t like that path
      Only good for the country is to be unite.
      What the crap foremost to Buddhism its gives to these thugs in yellow to destroy the lovely country
      We are leaving as sri Lanka’s comes as tourists but we love our country
      One thing to remember you all Hindus

    • 0
      0

      Sirisena,
      “No a single Sinhalese man or woman are been having Political Terrorism any part of Globe?”
      So the JVP was a Tamil party? That’s a new one.

    • 0
      0

      Yo Yatawara, what’s the crap are you talking? The whole human population knows that the Sri Lankan killings from 1915 is carried out by the Buddhist monk headed terror outfits backed by the Theosophy group of the British educated bourgeois class that consisted of Don Carolis family member Anagarika Dharmapala with the full backing of the British educated Elites in the likes of Senanayakes, Bandaranayakes, Gunasinghes, Jayawardenes etc. Just tell us how you connect the so called Buddhist philosophy with these criminals who are Jew blooded Telungu origin racist scumbags who changed their religion from Hindu Brahmins, then to Christianity and when they had been favoured for the political power after the British colonial ending to be on power till today…. The Zionist backed Govigama criminals and their mass murders during the last seven decades of their continued rule?

  • 5
    0

    Who invited Prez MR to this event is not a matter of concern. I am interested in finding out who wrote this speech.

  • 3
    0

    Why he didn’t mention that his notorious brother white van murderer createated monks of army by ven Gunarasa thug the drunken driver.

    Should have let the Indians knows that the monks are above the law.
    And Aluthgama attack and how the prejudiced army were protecting the saffron thugs and not the other citizens.

    These modern saffrons are in parliament As well but Lord Buddha done the opposite.

    Most of them have bank a.c.,cars plus posh meals.

    Can do crime also manage to get two different ID

    How sympathetic and generous towards the refugees

    It’s all in the name of and savirous…..

    MR forgot to say it was Ceylon then

  • 5
    1

    Sinhalese politicians need more tamils in the south because they need them to massacre when they are thirsty & hungry. That is why they say now more tamils in the South than North.

  • 1
    0

    Soon after masters left the so called terrorism still we carry was created by LTTE fake monk by shooting the one who brought Somalia only
    Who is this Tamil diaspora it was created by you all wants to chase away the Thamils.
    Rohana wijeweera was also LTTE
    King Ashoka brought the Buddhism to the barbarians to be civilised not the statue builders.
    Actually as Sinhalese what is the contribution towards the Buddhism and humanity.
    Come out of from the the myth that you all created or saviour of Buddhism.
    The class system you have ,1st thing ask is what is your surname….
    Who is governing you all now the murders thugs drug dealers under world kings but they all wear national dress that white and white and regular visitors to the yellow robes
    You Moody’s a county’s finance minister even don’t know his own financial matter of his own,his wife bought the house but he lives there but don’t any knowledge is it own or rented or bought it…..what a capable to run the whole country’s finance
    Who are the spoilers of the country
    We don’t like to be part of sri lanka,we recognised as sri Lanka’s
    But this karma you can’t get away with what we suffered as minorities with under heavy hands now it’s openly happening in the south but we don’t like that path
    Only good for the country is to be unite.
    What the crap foremost to Buddhism its gives to these thugs in yellow to destroy the lovely country
    We are leaving as sri Lanka’s comes as tourists but we love our country
    One thing to remember you all Hindus

  • 2
    2

    Percy pig the catholic reading what someone has written for him never allowed photo shoot with governor?

  • 1
    0

    All religions are outdated by science. It is time to absorb the morals and ethics of all the religions and make a single religion. But any country should be secular. It is a disgrace to see a Islamic republic or a Buddhist republic full of corruption and criminals running a government.

    • 0
      0

      WICRAMA MODAYA: Just say you do not know buddha dharma.

      • 1
        0

        Jimsofty the Dimwit

        “WICRAMA MODAYA: Just say you do not know buddha dharma.”

        What is your version of buddha dharma?
        Is it “A dead Tamil is a good Tamil”?
        Sunday sil Monday kill?
        Kill the Veddah, Rob the Buddha, Blame the Suddah?

  • 3
    0

    This is a hilarious speech. First of all Sinhalese hate India due to anger over India wiping out theravada buddhism across most of its land in ancient times. Mahinda is also on tape during his JVP years calling India a dangerous enemy of Sri Lanka. And the idea that Buddhism is a ‘gift’ is hilarious in the Sri Lankan context. As anyone can clearly see that the buddhist religion has become a joke and a disgrace in Sri Lanka. If you see the behaviour of Sri Lankan monks, nowhere else in the world do you see monks using such vulgar and threatening language. Even in Burma, guys like Wirathu keep a calm and serene poise when they speak.

  • 3
    0

    If Buddhism should be the state religion, then country should be dominated by Buddhist morality too but the Sinhalese aren’t real Buddhists.

  • 1
    0

    ” …. At a time when the concept of religious tolerance was unknown in Europe, Sri Lankan rulers were practising it, thanks to the influence of Buddhism …”.

    Unfortunately Mahinda, you didn’t practice what you preach. So just keep your mouth shut & enjoy retirement with the billions you have accumulated fraudulently. SL can’t afford to have you back in politics.

  • 0
    0

    Some points are Funny, while some are Ignorance, and others are Racist = whole of what he said.

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